What is the best visa for you, the Retirement Visa or the Elite Visa? Let’s compare these two visas to determine which is best for you.
If you decide to stay in Thailand long term, it is very easy to become confused about which visa to get. If you’re over 50 or are nearing 50, you might be considering the Retirement Visa or the Elite Visa. They both have very different requirements, application processes, fees, validity extensions, etc.
Firstly, let’s look at the NON O-A Retirement Visa, the most popular Retirement Visa. In order to qualify for this visa, you must be over 50 years of age and have a six-month lease in Thailand, as well as an account with at least 800,000 THB. The Retirement Visa has a one-year expiration date and needs to be renewed every year at your local immigration office on top of other visa fees.
Now, let’s discuss the Elite Visa. It’s a larger investment, but your life will be much easier with it. The Elite Visa does not only last between 5 and 20 years, but it comes with additional benefits that can simplify your life in Thailand.
You do not need to be a resident or have a financial position to qualify, just pay a one-time fee for membership. There are benefits like a limo service, VIP airport assistance, and immigration privileges. There is a personal assistant who will escort you through the airport and immigration every time you travel internationally, as well as car service for international flights. While everyone around you is busy at the airport, you can relax and enjoy the Elite members lounge. You will skip the long lines and even use the fast track lane usually reserved for government diplomats. As part of Thai Elite, you’ll also receive assistance in opening a Thai bank account and getting a Thai driver’s license.
Application process and prerequisites
The requirements for obtaining an Elite Visa are as simple as scanning your passport, uploading a passport photo, and completing an application form. Once your application has been submitted, the Thai government will perform a criminal background check; you do nothing during this time.
The good news is that you can apply from anywhere and as a Thailand Elite agent we don’t charge any service fees. We will complete the application and we will verify your documents to ensure you’ll be approved.
You will be guided through each step of the way so that you know important things such as payment and exchange rates, when to pay, and how to get the visa in your passport as quickly as possible.
In contrast, the Thailand Retirement Visa requires a variety of prerequisites, such as proof of finances, residency documents, a medical certificate, an official background check issued by the government, as well as Thai health insurance. The application process for the Retirement Visa in Thailand usually takes three to four months, and you will need to apply for the Retirement Visa every year in person at the Immigration Office, which may be crowded. For applications outside of Thailand, you must contact the Thai embassy or consulate in your jurisdiction and submit your documents in person or by mail. For the NON O-A retirement visas, leaving the country and returning has different processes, so separately from the visa you must get a re-entry permit to avoid the visa being canceled.
As the Elite Visa does not require any financial commitment or long-term lease agreement, it already includes a multiple entry permit, which allows you to travel freely internationally and domestically.
This is a great way to stay in Thailand hassle-free for up to 20 years if you have the money to invest in Elite membership. The visa is a good option for people who want to stay in Thailand for a long time and receive VIP treatment at the airport and immigration, along with flexibility to travel in and out of the country.
if you choose to work with our team or if you schedule a consultation, we will make sure that you’re well informed about your visa and government requirements so that you choose the right visa for you during a consultation i review each step of the application timing payment methods and other requirements to ensure that you do not only receive your visa but also so that you don’t risk overstaying and it’s really important that you know about this because
Retirement Visa VS Elite Visa Fees
Besides the financial requirement, the government fees to apply for a Retirement Visa are relatively low. For a NON O-A visa, the fees are less than 300 USD a year. Typically, visa agents or lawyers will charge between 700 and 1,200 USD for the first year and between 300 and 600 USD for the annual extensions.
In the Elite Visa, there are eight packages available for five, ten, and twenty years with prices starting at around 17,000 USD. There is just a one-time fee for the Elite Visa. For 1 million Thai Baht, which averages out to 120 USD per month, the Elite superiority extension package offers a 20-year stay in Thailand.
Another popular option is the Elite easy access package that costs 600,000 Thai Baht for 5 years. If you’re thinking about staying in Thailand for more than five years but aren’t ready to commit to a 20-year package, the Elite easy access package is a great choice because you can upgrade it to the 20-year package for a difference in price, which means that you get 15 more years for just about 11,000 Thai Baht.
In addition, many people between 45 and 50 years of age are looking to semi-retire in Thailand, and if you’re looking for the best visa solution until you turn 50 and qualify for a Retirement Visa, unfortunately there are very few options. Because Elite Visas don’t have an age requirement, they are especially popular with remote workers, digital nomads and entrepreneurs.
Immigration has become increasingly strict and even refused people with alternative visas (like a volunteer visa or an education visa) from reentering Thailand if no actual commitment is being fulfilled.
For people under 50, the Elite Visa is a safe and secure way to stay in Thailand without any hassle. Payment is made in advance, which can cause sticker shock. However, those who have stayed in Thailand often know how frustrating it can be to extend a visa. It’s well worth the one-time payment if you can afford it. Getting an Elite Visa in Thailand will likely save you more money than staying in your country of origin as Thailand is very affordable and offers an excellent lifestyle for expats.
It is also important to take into account the renewal process for Retirement Visas, which is done annually. In order to extend your Retirement Visa, you need to verify you meet the same financial residency and insurance requirements. To be sure you are still eligible and will be able to meet the same requirements, you need to start preparing at least three months in advance. It is necessary to have funds two months before and three months after for the NON O-A visa, so you need to prepare for this each year. Since it’s renewed annually, there’s a risk that immigration changes requirements and you’re no longer eligible.
In contrast, the Elite Visa is a multiple entry visa valid for five years with a one year stamp upon entry into Thailand. The Elite Visa allows you to travel as much as you want during the five years without having to worry about losing it. It is possible to never have to visit an immigration office if you travel internationally every year, and if you never want to leave Thailand, you do not have to leave Thailand at all. It is possible to stay in Thailand for up to 20 consecutive years with the Elite Visa, but if you do not leave Thailand within 365 consecutive days, you must get a one-year extension stamp from the immigration office. In order to make your life as easy as possible, Elite will set up an appointment for you at your nearest immigration office for you.
There is no clear-cut answer as to whether the Retirement Visa or the Elite Visa is better. It really depends on your individual circumstances and what you are looking for in a visa. If you are retired and looking for a visa that will allow you to live in Thailand permanently, then the Retirement Visa is probably your best and cheapest option for you. However, if you are younger and looking for a visa that will give you more flexibility in terms of work and travel, then the Elite Visa might be a better choice. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which visa suits your needs best.